An intimate studio jam session with John Mayer

John Mayer played to a crowd of more than 10,000 on Monday at his debut Singapore concert. ST PHOTO: MARCUS LIN



Singapore Indoor Stadium

Last Monday

At his debut Singapore concert, American guitarist and singer-songwriter John Mayer managed to make the cavernous Indoor Stadium feel like an intimate blues bar, with his musicianship and banter on full display.

It was as though the crowd of more than 10,000 was privy to an intimate studio jam session of blues, country, rock, folk, pop and soul tunes with 41-year-old Mayer and his friends - who included acclaimed musicians like bassist Pino Palladino, guitarist Isaiah Sharkey and singer-guitarist David Ryan Harris.

Just like a band playing at a small club venue, there was even an intermission halfway through the almost three-hour-long gig.

A skim of his recent tour set lists for New Zealand and Australia showed that no two shows were the same and, true to form, he switched it up in Singapore by playing different songs from his seven-album catalogue.

With no new material to tour, other than his latest single I Guess I Just Feel Like, the gig was more free-flowing and expansive - perfect for his first outing in Singapore.

There was concert opener Helpless, off his last album, The Search For Everything (2017), as well as completely unexpected deep cuts like Badge And Gun off Paradise Valley (2013), which he noted was a favourite song of American comedian Bob Saget.

He acknowledged that "you usually follow up something like that with a song everyone knows", before launching into what is arguably his biggest hit, Your Body Is A Wonderland.

Other popular tracks performed included No Such Thing, Waiting On The World To Change and the emotionally charged Slow Dancing In A Burning Room.

He messed around with the wah-wah guitar pedals on I Don't Trust Myself (With Loving You) and then did some delicate guitar-picking on Paper Doll.

Close-ups of the seemingly ageless Mayer on the video screens showed him flashing a cheeky smile or closing his eyes while delivering blistering guitar solos.

The crowd too was on form, singing lyrics back at him unprompted, like on his interpretation of late American singer-songwriter Tom Petty's Free Fallin'.

His enjoyment on stage was as infectious as it was endearing and it was clear that he was appreciative of the warm reception from the crowd.

"I don't know if I'd be standing here, if not for the people reaching out to me on Instagram," he said.

"You were right about this place - we love it."

The encore of Edge Of Desire and Gravity was the perfect end to a show that was a joyous display of musicianship and artistry.

He was all praise for the crowd after the show as well, taking to Instagram and Facebook to share photos from the gig. "First time playing Singapore and nowhere near the last. I enjoyed every second of each song knowing it was the first time anyone in the room had heard them live. Not a moment taken for granted. And what a crowd. Thank you, Singapore."

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 03, 2019, with the headline An intimate studio jam session with John Mayer. Subscribe